By Omar Bah
A two-man delegation from the Gambia National Audit Office led by Auditor General, Karamba Touray is currently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, taking part in the auditing of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC institutions.
The Gambian delegation is tasked with auditing the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training for the Islamic Countries (SESRIC) based in Turkey. The team will make recommendations for reforms after the audit.
SESRIC was established to support the process of socio-economic co-operation and development among the Member States of the OIC by undertaking activities in the areas of statistics, research, training and technical co-operation. It organises and supports training programmes in selected fields geared to the expressed needs of the Member States, in particular, to assist them in the training of their administrative and technical personnel in the relevant subjects, as well as to the general objectives of the OIC. The Centre is also the focal point of the OIC for technical co-operation.
The Gambia is a member of the OIC Permanent Finance Committee (PFC) whose responsibility is to approve the budget of the subsidiary organs and also audit them.
“We are auditing the Statistical Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries 2019-2020 budgets. We are auditing both the 2019-2020 budgets together because due to the coronavirus there was no auditing in 2019,” AG Touray told The Standard from his base in Jeddah.
AG Touray said the audits are normally “carried out by visiting the individual institutions” but because of the coronavirus institutions were asked to bring all their books to the OIC headquarters in Jeddah and each member country is assigned to a specific institution. He said because all member countries are paying annual subscriptions, the auditing is important to ensure transparency and accountability.
Until 2019, The Gambia was represented by the Accountant General Office and Foreign Affairs. Invitations to the audit exercise are sent through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
AG Touray said his office got to know about the PFC in 2019 through the Gambian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “In that year, we audited the Islamic University of Technology in Bangladesh,” he said.
He said because Gambia and some other countries were represented by staff that had no idea about auditing “the audits were not done vigorously”.
“This is why the first time we came, we recommended changes to a number of statuses to make the audit more robust and insisted that countries should strictly send audit staff so that the audit can have some effect,” he said.
Asked whether the OIC Gambia is part of the institution to be audited, Touray replied: “OIC Gambia Office will not be part of this exercise because it is not a subsidiary office but a project. However, funds sent to the Gambia will be checked and that would be done as part of the audit of the secretariat itself.”
He said his office regularly audits the OIC Gambia. The Gambian team is expected back home on 12th of September, the same day the audit exercise is expected to complete.
The OIC has at least 38 subsidiary organs, affiliated Institutions and Specialized Institutions.